Children judge others based on their food choices

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jasmine M. DeJesus, Assistant Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Individuals and cultures share some commonalities in food preferences, yet cuisines also differ widely across social groups. Eating is a highly social phenomenon; however, little is known about the judgments children make about other people’s food choices. Do children view conventional food choices as normative and consequently negatively evaluate people who make unconventional food choices? In five experiments, 5-year-old children were shown people who ate conventional and unconventional foods, including typical food items paired in unconventional ways. In Experiment 1, children preferred conventional foods and conventional food eaters. Experiment 2 suggested a link between expectations of conventionality and native/foreign status; children in the United States thought that English speakers were relatively more likely to choose conventional foods than French speakers. Yet, children in Experiments 3 and 4 judged people who ate unconventional foods as negatively as they judged people who ate canonical disgust elicitors and nonfoods, even when considering people from a foreign culture. Children in Experiment 5 were more likely to assign conventional foods to cultural ingroup members than to cultural outgroup members; nonetheless, they thought that no one was likely to eat the nonconventional items. These results demonstrate that children make normative judgments about other people’s food choices and negatively evaluate people across groups who deviate from conventional eating practices.

Additional Information

Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 179, 143-161. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2018.10.009
Language: English
Date: 2019
Social cognition, Food selection, Social judgment, Disgust, Social norms, Intergroup cognition

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